If regional health official Dr Godfrey Xuereb had his way graphic warnings of the dangers of smoking would be displayed prominently on tobacco packaging.
The Caribbean Programme Coordinator at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) this morning said that tobacco was deadly, hence the reason the global health organization and the Caribbean Community had recommended that countries legislate the placing of visual warnings on tobacco packaging so consumers would know they were buying a product that kills.
Dr Xuereb told participants at the opening of the Week of Excellence Seminar on Developing a National Policy on Wellness at Solidarity House these warnings were a deterrent to teenagers and those who wanted to begin smoking.
He called on educators and trade unions to pressure Government to enact legislation making it mandatory to place these warnings on cigarette boxes, and stressed the need for a ban on the sale of loose cigarettes.
“This deterrent is ineffective as children and adolescents are able to buy cigarettes in singles. I am not saying that this practice exists in Barbados, but we must ensure that this does not happen,” he said.
The PAHO official called for increased taxes on cigarettes as yet another deterrent to tobacco use by children and adolescents; and smoke-free work places to help reduce the threat of second and third hand smoke.
“I congratulate the tourism industry for being firm on this and enduring that we have smoke-free hotels which not only protects all their clients from second hand smoke but also all the employees from second and third hand smoke as they are the ones who handle linen, curtains [and] towels, which are all potential carriers of third hand tobacco harmful substances,” he explained.
He said while many may not see tobacco use as a problem in the Caribbean because of regulations that prohibit smoking indoors, data acquired by PAHO and WHO showed an increase in tobacco use by young persons, especially females.